One of the things I love about teaching is that we are forever learning alongside our students, in fact, reflecting on and providing proof of our learning is a requirement for gaining and renewing practising certificates.
The down side of this, is that when a pleasure becomes a requirement, the magic loses it glow. However, there is an up side. With the requirement comes money. Schools receive a reasonable amount of funding to facilitate teacher professional development and can use it as they see fit. Like most schools, my school has school-wide initiatives (guest speakers, late start sessions etc) and it facilitates PD initiated by Learning Areas, by Departments and by individuals, which includes contributions to courses, conferences, and tertiary study.
In my opinion, Teaching and Learning, like “Love and Marriage, go together like a Horse and Carriage.” The teaching with learning union has kept me in this career for more than four decades. As the old adage goes, it probably took me seven years in the classroom to learn my craft as a teacher and although you can never be bored in the classroom, after a couple of decades, I started to get bored with the career and considered other pathways. Instead, I went back to university, supported by my school’s PD funds, to learn another language, which I then taught. Then came the laptop revolution. I wasn’t convinced that the use of computers improved language learning so I went back to university again to find out. More recently, I have become interested in the role of metacognition in learning, so have come back to university again to do my own research on the topic. Again, supported with time and funds from both my school and the wonderful PPTA-MOE initiative of TeachNZ study grants.
So does all my learning make me a better teacher? It certainly prevents boredom which has got to be good for my students. Does all my learning aid my students to become better learners? I think so, but that is very hard to quantify. However, I feel I have some indications. Last year, I used my own students for a pilot study on reflective processes and, for only the second time in eight years at my school, there was a 100% pass rate in NCEA in those two classes. Although not pure evidence, it is an indication that teacher professional development improves student learning.